A recent study by Weight Watchers found that we eat an average of 3200 calories at each BBQ we attend – that’s at least 1000 more calories than the average person needs in a day! Besides the calories, we are also consuming excess amounts of red and processed meats, along with sugary condiments.
These are quite the alarming stats! Why do I think we over-consume food at summer BBQ’s?
- Lack of mindful eating
We’re eating and talking, and drinking and talking and doing everything but paying attention to what we’re putting in our mouths. This can easily lead to over-consumption, as we don’t realize when we’re actually full. We’re not listening to our bodies!
- We’re in the ‘treat ourselves’ mindset
It is true that we need to reward ourselves often. However, what we have to be careful of, is how we reward ourselves, as it often tends to be with over-consumption of low-quality foods. We don’t need to make perfect food choices all the time, however if we give ourselves permission to switch into ‘vacation’ or ‘weekend’ mode every Friday-Sunday and not watch what we eat, we’re not treating ourselves anymore. Half of the week will be turned into a ‘treat ourselves’ mindset. Let’s try to reward ourselves with things other than overeating!
- Lack of nutrient-dense choices
Nutrient-dense choices (such as colorful veggies, nuts, seeds, etc) aren’t usually the center of the foods that we consume at summer BBQ’s. In fact, we may not see them at all. Why are nutrient-dense options important? They give our bodies what we need and therefore help us feel full and satisfied. White buns and processed meats give our bodies very little of what it actually needs to function, which leads to our body wanting more…hence leading to overeating.
Now this doesn’t mean that we have to scrap BBQ’s altogether. To make smarter choices at these events, it’s about making healthy, simple swaps to commonly consumed foods.
One simple swap you can take is ditching that baked potato or those greasy fries and add in a stuffed sweet potato! Sweet potatoes are definitely a nutrient-dense food. To provide an overview, one sweet potato has over four times the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A, the daily amount of Vitamin E, and 4 grams of Fibre. The addition of the lentils and veggies in my stuffed sweet potato recipe ramp up the fibre, protein and micronutrients! Sweet potatoes also won’t spike your blood sugar as much as white potatoes, as they are lower on the Glycemic Index scale.
It is a bit challenging to find fresh sweet potatoes in Canada, due to the short growing season. This is why I tend to look for American Sweet Potatoes, which are the most commonly available fresh sweet potatoes that you can find year round. I partnered with the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute to bring you this fantastic summer BBQ recipe.
BBQ Lentil Stuffed Sweet Potato
A healthy and filling summer BBQ swap that doesn't sacrifice taste.
- 4 small to medium American sweet potatoes
- 1 cup dry lentils
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 shallots, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup store-bought BBQ sauce (I like Stubbs Original BBQ sauce, which is a lower sugar sauce)
- 1 cup baby kale
- Preheat the outdoor grill for medium-low heat. Tightly wrap potatoes in tin foil. Place potatoes on grill, close lid and cook for 40 minutes. Check if potato is done – a fork should easily slide in the potato. Depending on the size, you may need to cook potato for 20-30 minutes more.
- While potatoes are cooking, add 3 cups water to a large pot; bring to a boil. Add lentils; bring water back to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until lentils are tender. Remove from pot and set aside.
- In the same pot over medium heat, warm oil. Add chopped onion and carrots; cook for 5-7 minutes, until tender and browned. Add garlic; cook for one more minute. Add the BBQ sauce into the pot; stir until all the veggies are coated. Bring to a boil; cover, and reduce to simmer for 10-12 minutes. Add the lentils to the sauce; stir to combine. Add more water if needed.
- Add oil to separate saucepan. When heated, add kale to saucepan. Mix with a spatula, until edges are browned.
- Slice the potatoes down the middle. Spoon the lentil filling into each sweet potato. Top with sauteed kale.